Darwinian Detectives: Revealing the Natural History of Genes and Genomes

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Biology is often viewed today as a bipartisan field, with molecular level genetics guiding us into the future and natural history (including ecology, evolution, and conservation biology,) chaining us to a descriptive scientific past. In Darwinian Detectives, Norman Johnson bridges this divide, revealing how the tried and true tools of natural history make sense of the newest genomic discoveries. Molecular scientists exploring newly sequenced genomes have stumbled upon quite a few surprises, including that only one to ten percent of the genetic material of animals actually codes for genes. What does the remaining 90-99% of the genome do? Why do some organisms have a much lower genome size than their close relatives? What were the genetic changes that were associated with us becoming human? As molecular biologists uncover these and other new mysteries, evolutionary geneticists are searching for answers to such questions. Norman Johnson captures the excitement of the hunt for our own genetic history. Through lively anecdotes, he explores how researchers detect natural selection acting on genes and what this genetic information tells us about human origins.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Just about every topic under the banner "why genetics is important to understand and still amazing to many professional biologists" is covered in this compact book. What a delight to read about some well-chosen examples, glittering in succinct detail and presented in a manner designed to intrigue and captivate a general audience."—Reports of the National Center for Science Education

"Along with addressing issues like ID and creation science, Johnson goes on to show how molecular biology confirms and extends the conclusions that scientists have used to support evolution. This is why this book is such a good read. Through his antidotal way of writing, Johnson is able to explain how researchers have discovered the ways natural selection work on gene, but he does it in a way that one just starting in their study of evolutionary biology can understand."—The American Biology Teacher

"This volume is a worthwhile update for anyone who wants to see where comparative genomics is taking us."—Quarterly Review of Biology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195306750
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/6/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman A. Johnson, an evolutionary geneticist, is the author of numerous research publications, mainly in the genetics and evolution of reproductive isolation between nascent species. Johnson has taught at the University of Chicago, University of Texas at Arlington, and the University of Massachusetts, where he is currently an Adjunct Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences.

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Table of Contents

1. The Baby with the Baboon Heart: Why Evolution Still Matters
2. Why Intelligent Design Is Not Science
Interlude 1: Natural Selection
3. Negative Selection and the Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution
4. Detecting Positive Selection
5. Balancing Selection and Disease
Interlude 2: Human Origins and Evolution
6. Finding Our Roots: Did "Eve" Know "Adam"?
7. Who were the Neanderthals?
8. Are We the Third Chimpanzee?
9. What are the Genetic Differences that Made Us Human?
10. Clicks, Genes, and Languages
11. Who Let the Dogs in? The Domestication of Animals and Plants.
12. Size Matters: Toward Understanding the Natural History of Genomes

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